Montana Public Radio

'The Food Guys' Talk GMO Potatoes - And Why Their Developer Wants Them Pulled

Jul 14, 2019

The Food Guys, Jon Jackson and Greg Patent, discuss the 2018 book, Pandora's Potatoes: The Worst GMOs, by Caius Rommens, former director of biotech research and development at the potato processing and marketing company, J.R. Simplot. Rommens, a genetic engineer, developed Simplot's genetically-modified potatoes, which were approved for commercial planting in the U.S. in 2014.

Rommens writes:

"The GMO varieties I created are currently released under innocuous names, such as Innate, Hibernate, and White Russet. They are described as better and easier-to-use than normal potatoes and to contain fewer bruises, but the reality is different. The GMO potatoes are likely to accumulate at least two toxins that are absent in normal potatoes, and newer versions (Innate 2.0) additionally lost their sensory qualities when fried. Furthermore, the GMO potatoes contain at least as many bruises as normal potatoes, but these undesirable bruises are now concealed."

Jon comments: "J.R. Simplot were concerned about the image of French fries. French fries were getting bad press, and when you added to it the hint that there might be carcinogens or something -  even though it was so minimal as to hardly be significant...I think they were mostly concerned about the appearance of the potato, which is kind of bizzare, when you think about it. A potato isn't a particularly handsome vegetable. It grows in the earth and looks kind of dumpy."

"I'm just absolutely appalled at what's happening to our food system, without our knowledge...We need to pay attention to this book, to see what else he says about what is happening in the potatoes as a result of his genetic fiddling," concludes Greg.

(Broadcast: "The Food Guys," 7/7/19 and 7/14/19. Listen weekly on the radio at 11:50 a.m. Sundays, or via podcast.)